My friends are my favorite people on Earth, and I absolutely love hosting them at my house. So when Simply Recipes asked me to gather a group of people together to determine which brand of tater tots is the very best, I knew exactly the people for the job. So I sent out my invitations to Tot Girl Spring, a Tater Tot Tasting Party.
Our task was simple: Try as many tater tot brands as we can find and eat a tater tot from every single one.
The Five Brands of Tater Tots We Taste Tested
Here were the five tater tot brands competing for my friends’ approval:
- Ore Ida Extra Crispy Tater Tots
- Ore Ida Golden Tater Tots
- ShopRite Original Tater Bites
- Trader Joe’s Potato Tots
- Target’s Market Pantry Frozen Crispy Potato Puffs (See Editor’s Note below.)
In retrospect, I should have air fried them all for peak crispness, but since I was also playing hostess to 15 people at the same time as I was cooking the tots, it was easier to just bake them in the oven for the recommended bake time listed on the back of each bag.
How We Taste Tested the Tater Tots
In my mind, the ideal pillow of potato-y goodness is crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside, has a little bit of buttery or onion-y flavor, and can hold its structure when covered in cheese or dipped in ketchup.
I included some basic criteria for what to look out for when judging the tots. Then, I created a Google Form so each guest could rank each brand on a scale from one (this is not a tater tot I would eat again) to five (this tater tot absolutely changed my life), and explain their reasoning behind their selections.
The Winning Tater Tot—A Surprise!
When I tell you my friends took their judging duties incredibly seriously, I mean they took this incredibly seriously. They were picking up tots and inspecting them closely to determine crispness. They were comparing notes on how onion-y one tot was compared to another. Nothing brings a group together like the shared goal of judging something.
So I wasn’t surprised when they came up with a nearly unanimous answer about which brand reigned supreme, but what did surprise me was that the winner was none other than Target brand tater tots. (I didn’t think a store house brand would win out a well-known brand like Ore Ida or even Trader Joe’s.)
Yes, you read that right. TARGET’S MARKET PANTRY TATER TOTS. I added them to the lineup purely because I was at Target getting Ore Ida tots, and yet they blew every other brand out of the water according to my party guests. Here are some of the taste testers’ thoughts:
“They weren’t too greasy, the potatoes were well diced, and were the crispiest of the bunch.”
“Target’s tater tots were crunchy and creamy, a solid 4 out of 5.”
In a close second were the Ore Ida Golden Tater Tots, which were “crunchier, saltier, greasier, but paler in color,” according to one tester.
Each guest was in agreement that the ShopRite brand tots deserved a special mention because they were the only ones with an added onion flavoring. “It gave them a nice punch,” commented one tester.
Tater tots are a crowd-favorite snack, and in my opinion, one of the top ways to enjoy the universally beloved potato. And if you can’t decide which tater tots to buy for a tasty snack or a weeknight dinner side dish, take it from 15 of my friends and me; Target tater tots are the very best of the best.